By R. Alan richardson
There’s a guy who has lived in Rutledge, Georgia his entire life and few can compare to his wide array of outdoor experiences. Mack McHugh, 62, said, “All I’ve been doing my entire life is hunting, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. That’s what I like to do. I love Rutledge and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
He says that some of his earliest experiences of fishing and hunting were with his dad, Mack McHugh Sr. “Everything I learned about the outdoors came from him starting at about six years old and I’m still with it and still hanging in there. I got my first gun when I was eight from my dad.”
Since that point in his life he has pursued and hunted deer, quail, ducks, doves, rabbits and just about every game species available to him. His photos included epic kills of almost every species that Georgia has to offer. His fishing prowess is known county wide. He told us, “I started out fishing on ponds and rivers for bream, catfish, and largemouth bass, but when Lake Oconee was built in the 1970’s I got hooked on fishing for hybrids, stripers, crappie, and big catfish. Jimmy Griffin, Jr. took me on my first North Georgia trout fishing trips around 1972 as well. It was a different kind of fishing for me.”
Mack got introduced to flats saltwater fishing about that same time for spotted seatrout and redfish, mostly around Suwanee, Florida, where he caught about every saltwater species there is to offer. Sharks, black sea bass, and many other game fish were on the menu as well as the aforementioned fish in the cooler before the day was over. “Back then there weren’t any limits so we could catch and keep as many as we could.”
He recalled some of his favorite trips with us, “I guess the best two fishing trips I ever went on were trips to Suwanee on a flats trips for trout and redfish and a trip to the Tennessee River. On the Suwanee trip we caught so many trout that we had to load them into the back of an El Camino and put ice on them because there were about 600 pounds and we didn’t have enough cooler space to bring them home. The vehicle was dragging the ground and we had to stop about every 25 miles to put more ice on them before we got back to clean them all. After that trip I was completely wore out.”
Mack then recounted his best freshwater trip with long-time fishing buddy, Mark Shepherd. “We went up to the Tennessee River in 1992 to fish for stripers behind Laudon Dam using blue herring as bait. On every drift we had two on at a time in the 20 pound plus range, and I caught my biggest striper to date at 26 pounds on that trip. Of course I got that fish mounted and hangs on my wall today,” he said.
We couldn’t leave out one of his best hunting trips either. “In 1982 I got a chance to travel to South Georgia for a rabbit hunting trip with one-time Rutledge resident Lewis Self who was then running a game preserve. We killed over 100 rabbits, but then had to clean them all. That one wore me out too.” He also wanted to mention Robert Pennington and Billy Adcock as two of his long-time outdoor friends.
Mack talked a little about his family saying, “I have two kids, Russ (27) and Katie (28), along with two grandkids, Addison and Kamryn.” He said that Katie is more of an outdoorsmen like him.
If you ever run into him, he has hundreds of stories and photos of the outdoors, and is a great story-teller of those epic trips. He is as true an outdoorsmen as you will ever meet, and there is no question that he is a member of the Morgan County Citizen’s Local Outdoor Legends list.